Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 8-3-2021

AUGUST 3, 2021, regular session


  • Recognitions and awards
  • Summer programming and strategic plan goals
  • COVID protocol recommendations
  • Debt refunding 
  • State budget impact
  • Announcements


Present were President James Posch and members Malia Lewis, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright. Dan Heintz was absent. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. and adjourned at 8:47 p.m. A sound problem occurred during the opening three minutes during the video recording.

Recognitions and awards

Superintendent Kirby recognized and thanked the students and coaches who represented Heights High in the July 4 University Heights parade.

High school junior Taylor Evans has been named GEAR UP Student of the Year by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships.

This year, the College Board is recognizing 48 Heights High students for their AP (Advanced Placement) performance: 28 AP scholars, twelve AP scholars with honor, and eight AP scholars with distinction.

Summer programming and strategic plan goals

Superintendent Kirby praised the success of the 2021 summer programming and thanked Bob Swaggard, director of curriculum and educational services, for his work in developing the program, which enrolled over 800 students throughout the summer. She said she will formally recognize program successes at the September board meeting. Several community organizations were involved in program activities. Evaluation metrics are being reviewed to assess student short-term and long-term educational growth.

School starts August 24. The district website contains up-to-date information regarding the start of school. The web page also provides a link to information for Tiger Virtual Academy, a program similar to the Ohio Online program offered during the 2020-2021 school year. At the time of this report, approximately 25 students have requested to enroll in the program. 

The Noble Community Learning Center (CLC) centralizes resources for students, their families, and residents. The CLC, a component of the district’s five-year strategic plan, is an approach often referred to as wraparound services. Kristiaun Copez-Minor will serve as the CLC organizer.

COVID protocol recommendations

For the 2021-2022 school year, Superintendent Kirby proposed recommendations that align safety protocols with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) guidance. Both the CDC and ODH recommend vaccination and masking. The CDC guidance stresses universal masking for all teachers, staff members, and students in schools, regardless of vaccination status. In-school instruction will be held five days a week. The district will continue with cleaning and handwashing protocols and social distancing. Desk shields will not be used unless requested by a parent or staff member or if mandated by CDC and county board of health guidance. Dividers will continue to be used in all eating spaces. Temperature screenings are eliminated.

Ms. Lewis asked that, when possible, six-foot distancing be implemented. She also observed that adherence to the present protocols have met the goal of preventing an outbreak in the school buildings.

Ms. Sourini asked that non-public school leaders receive communication regarding mask protocols as all students must comply with district protocols when on district busses.

The board approved the superintendent’s recommendations to follow CDC and ODH guidance regarding COVID protocols.

Refinancing of Facilities Project Debt

In a virtual presentation, Michelle Hillstrom, Stifel Public Finance, explained the district’s recently completed refinancing of debt incurred to pay for the high school and middle school projects; her slide presentation is available on BoardDocs (see below). This refunding results in a one-mill reduction in the annual property tax millage required for bond debt service through 2033, based on current property values, and increases availability of permanent improvement revenues to pay for capital projects.


State budget impact

Mr. Gainer presented a 12-minute video of Eric Resnick, Canton City School District Board of Education, who explained what is, and is not, in the state budget regarding public education. The state budget does not make permanent the enacted Fair School Funding Plan, which does not achieve goals of the original plan. Funding for non-public schools is a separate line item and provides a 50 percent increase in voucher net funding, but only a 1.5 percent increase in funding for public schools. Funding allotted for a public school student is $6,100. Funding for a private school student is $7,500, and the family receives a $250 tax credit. There is no limit on the number of non-public schools that can receive public money. The legislature has folded the Fair School Funding Plan into the budget in a manner that does not provide meaningful additional funding for the public schools. In two years, educational funding from the federal pandemic relief program will end.

For 2021-2022, the district will receive $41,310 in additional funding as compared to the previous year. Ms. Lewis observed that this is about one-half of a teacher’s combined salary and benefits package.

The board and superintendent thanked those who diligently advocated for the Fair School Funding Plan. Ms. Sourini also agreed with Mr. Resnick’s point that vouchers are public money with no accountability. Public money should have the same accountability regardless of who receives it.

Mr. Posch asked that Mr. Gainer’s slide presentation be formatted as a PDF document and placed on the district web site with a link to Mr. Resnick’s video.


Because meeting in Heights High auditorium allows for social distancing and use of technology to videotape meetings, the board will continue to hold meetings at this location in 2021-2022.

High school graduation will be held August 19. Convocation will be held virtually August 23 at 8:15 a.m.

The joint meeting with Cleveland Heights City Council and the Library Board was beneficial. The school board hopes to have another joint meeting.

Upcoming meetings include a work session to discuss strategic planning on Aug. 17, 6:30 p.m. The next regular board meeting is moved to Wednesday, Sept. 8, to accommodate the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

LWV Observer, Rosemarie Fairman.

The board held brief public meetings (under five minutes) on July 15 and 20 to approved consent agendas. Ms. Wright was absent July 15 and Ms. Lewis was absent July 20. The remainder of both meetings was held in executive session for discussion of personnel matters.

Documents for all board meetings can be accessed from the Board of Education webpage: Go to “BoardDocs” in the menu; on Board Docs go to “MEETINGS” in the top menu; click on “Agenda.” Board meetings are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel ( and recorded for later viewing.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:40 PM, 08.23.2021